‘Dudes Greeting Dudes’ sheds light on the double-standard of catcalling

Hollaback’s viral catcalling video has inspired a wide variety of responses over the past few days, from solidarity and praise to accusations of racist editing.

The video shows a woman walking silently through Manhattan for ten hours and collecting over a hundred instances of harassment from men on the street. Some viewers, however, didn’t interpret all of the catcalls as harassment. Why? Because in some cases, the guys were literally “just saying hi.”

For women who feel intimidated by this kind of supposedly casual greeting, it can sometimes be difficult to explain why the behavior is unacceptable. Sure, it’s unwanted attention, but it’s hardly the same as a wolf-whistle or a man making a sexually explicit remark. Right? Well, not quite. One of the simplest ways to puncture this argument is to ask if the same man would “say hi” in the same way to another man on the street. If the man in question just wanted to start a friendly conversation, one would expect about 50 percent of his greetings to be directed at other men.

Blogger and comedian Elon James White made this point while tweeting about the video on Sunday night.

White’s #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag immediately filled up with jokes about guys “saying hi” to or complimenting other men using the same lines they regularly use on female passersby.

Some Twitter users argued that #DudesGreetingDudes played off of straight men’s internalized homophobia, because some of them would only feel uncomfortable about this kind of compliment if it reflected a sexual advance by another man. But @elonjames disagreed, saying that the hashtag was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of claiming that “polite” street harassment had nothing to do with sex.

Whether or not you think the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag relies on internalized homophobia to make its point, it’s still very effective. It’s practically impossible to imagine men “greeting” each other the way they greet the woman in the Hollaback video, and this proves just how uncomfortable a suggestive and unwanted compliment can be.

Photo via Ingorr/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor